Being a "basenji dad", I have come to believe, is a bit like being the parent of a gifted and talented child. You know other parents love their little ones no more nor less than you do your own, but sometimes it's hard for them to relate to life on a daily life in your household. "It's just a dog, after all," many will say.
It's easy to feel isolated in your basenji parenthood, and BRAT has been a wonderful resource during my year and a half in the land of the curly tailed wonders. Support has come from as far away as Vermont, Florida and Texas. It has been a great community, but I've only been around other basenjis and their owners for just a few minutes at a time. I feel that BRAT has given so much to me, and I have really wanted to do more to give back.
So when an opportunity to be part of the "Basenji Underground Railroad" (BUR) to be a part of the transport chain of a basenji girl from Las Vegas to Seattle, I leaped to the chance to join in. On a scale of difficulty, my first foster was a 9.5 on a 1-10 scale, and I would say my adopted basenji ranks around 4.5.
So I was prepared for anything when I agreed to transport Gracie, the 13-year-old puppy mill rescue, but I was pleased to read from her profile that she was a real sweetheart. Nothing prepared me for just how sweet and easy she was when Jerry, the South Bay volunteer met me at the Walgreens parking lot around the corner from my house. (We agreed that meeting my girl would not be good for either of them.) She was immediately friendly, and after a bit of sniffing around the car immediately settled into the front seat.
Although there was a good profile about her on the BRAT website, I knew it was impossible to know exactly what she would be like and how she would react to me. I was pleased that she was so immediately trusting and calm.
When we stopped a couple of times for tolls or as I maneuvered the S-curve on the East Bay Bridge, she would stir a bit, only to lean in to my leg, sometimes letting out a relaxed sigh. She seemed to behave as if we were old friends. In less than two hours we were already at the Sacramento dog park where I scheduled to turn her over to Jan, the volunteer scheduled to take her for the next leg of the trip to Chico before her new forever family arrived from Seattle.
By that evening, there was this photo of Gracie with her new basenji brother, Tyco, who had a similarly difficult start in life. I was thrilled to hear that they fell in love upon first sight. I love the way Gracie is looking heavenward, as if to thank her lucky stars.
Since fostering is not an immediately viable option for me because of my basenji girl's protectiveness, I hope I have the chance to do another transport soon. It was a great way to meet other basenjis and other basenji owners. I felt I got much more out of it than my small contribution of getting Gracie on her way to a new home.